MORBID ANGEL – 11 more deaths
After an eight year drought, death metal pioneers Morbid Angel finally released their eighth full length studio album "Illud Divinum Insanus" on June 6th this year.
Seldom do so many factors come together to create interest in a release: this album marks the return of legendary frontman David Vincent after 15 years absence, it is the first official recording without Pete Sandoval, the first with new guitarist Destructhor and the first for new label Season of Mist, not to mention the group’s first release since 2003… this was bound to be an album that faced high expectations and judgement by the sternest of standards.
Even before the album was released, web and print reviewers demonstrated that they were split down the middle on this one. Some applauded the band’s adventurous spirit for integrating industrial and electronic influences with the band’s tried and tested death metal. Others were less supportive…
Eternal Terror’s Peter Loftus caught up with guitarist Destructhor to find out the full story.
Photo: Alex Solca
What news from the Morbid Angel camp?
At the moment we are touring Europe. We’ve already done Sweden Rock and a couple of club shows in Holland. Next up will be Hellfest in France and then Copenhell, Denmark. Later on (July-August) we’ve got more festivals coming up, like Wacken, Tuska, Brutal Assault to mention a few. Check our webpage for more dates. So far the tour is going pretty well and we have had some great shows.
How is Pete’s recovery going?
Well, that’s a hard question to answer. I mean, it’s a serious problem (Pete had to undergo spinal surgery last year for a disc prolepses), so you never know what the outcome of this will be. I wish him all the best for the future, no matter what happens. But other than that, it is kind of impossible to say how things will turn out, put it that way.
How did you come to be a part of Morbid Angel?
They had an audition on the Internet, where you had to record a video of yourself ripping through “Rapture” and “Pain Divine”. It all started with a friend of mine kind of pushing me (in a good way, though) to do it, because at first I was thinking I would rather stay focused on my own stuff. But after some thought, I said to myself, ‘Let’s give it a try’. I never thought I would get the job anyway, since I live in Norway. I thought they would go for an American dude, which was, by the way, what they also wanted in the first place of course. But here I am and I am very pleased with my situation.
Photo: Alex Solca
Have you moved to Florida?
No, I travel back and forth between the land of Vikings and the Florida swamp. I usually go down there some time (days/ weeks) prior to a tour to rehearse, hit the globe playing live shows and then travel back to the Mother country. Great times, indeed!
Where has Morbid Angel been for the past 8 years?
Well, I can only speak for the last three years, which is the time I have spent in Morbid Angel so far. During these years we have done some touring around the world. We did some touring in Central/South America, Europe and Australia. And we also put together the new album, of course. It has been three interesting years full of excitement for my part, anyway.
Did their absence from the scene put extra pressure on the recording of the album?
No, I wouldn’t say so. As I just mentioned above we have still been around showing off power, you know. And this is not a band that feels insecure in any musical or performing way. We’ve been fully focussed on doing a strong record and hitting the road hard!
What does it mean to Morbid Angel to have David Vincent back in the fold?
It means a lot for the band to have him back. I mean, David Vincent is without a doubt one of the biggest death metal icons. He’s an extremely characteristic individual. His stage presence and powerful live performances contribute a lot, and that’s not forgetting forget his lyrical and vocal performance on the albums.
Tell us about the new album.
It’s definitely a special and interesting album. You’ve got half of the record which is the classic death metal you’d expect from Morbid Angel, and then you’ve got the other half which is pretty different, to put it mildly. Honestly, I was surprised myself when I heard those songs for the first time. But remember two things – half of the record is quality death metal. And the other thing is the fact that Morbid Angel has always been a band who walk their own path and, being different is “their brand” so to speak. And this album definitely proves that once and for all, like it or not.
What was it like working with Tim Yeung? (Tim took up Pete Sandoval’s sticks for the album)
You know, Tim is an awesome guy both as a person as well as a drummer. I was a big fan of his work for a long time before he joined the band, from bands like, for example, Hate Eternal and Decrepit Birth. He is extremely talented. So when I heard that he was our new drummer I was pretty excited. And he has really delivered the goods too. He did a wonderful job on the record and he is definitely delivering on stage as well. He’s done a few gigs with us now and it all sounds great! He is easy to work with and he is on top of his game!
Obviously, you’ve worked with some great musicians in the past, but what is it like working with such a high profile band and playing alongside the legendary Trey Azagthoth?
I remember being on tour with Morbid Angel in the past, with Zyklon. We did one European tour and one in the States. It was a great experience to tour with them and to have a “close encounter” with a band of their level. I mean these guys have had a long and successful career playing death metal and that is awesome! I have also been a big fan of this band for years and to be a part of it myself , that is like an adventure. I felt like I was packing my lunchbox on a stick, like in a Norwegian fairy-tale, going out to explore the world, kind of. Trey is a very gifted musician with very different ideas. He’s got a kind of weird abstract type of writing/performing . I am used to machinery like, fast forward violent metal with as in Myrkskog and Zyklon. But in Morbid Angel there are a lot of weird grooves and kind of crawling rhythms. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on under the surface as well as above. It is a great feeling sharing the stage with a musician like Trey and of course the rest of the band.
Photo: Alex Solca
Morbid Angel are one of the originators of modern death metal. It looks like on the album you decided to take things in a new direction rather than go back to basics and remind all the newcomers how things are done…
Yes, they were there back in time, creating the early death metal sound. This question takes us back to the fact that Morbid Angel always have always done things differently to the rest. Some real weird electronic stuff has been added this time, but then again, there are still several really well composed tracks of pure death metal on the record! See it as a statement of our originality!
How does the song-writing work?
On this record, me, Trey and David wrote a few songs each. I wrote "Blades for Baal" and "10 More Dead". David handled the lyrics as usual. I am totally satisfied with the work David did lyrically and vocally on my songs. It was pretty fucking awesome being in the studio seeing it all come true. I think the songs came out great, and they even got a little touch of some "Norwegian chords" in there. Haha, who would know, huh! Anyway, it is awesome to get the possibility to be a part of the songwriting as I am a songwriter type of musician. This is very important for me to be a part of, so I’m thankful for that!
I’ve seen a few negative reviews online, particularly commenting on the more industrial sounding tracks like "Destructos vs. the Earth / Attack" and "Radikult". Have you seen these? What is your reaction to them?
As I said earlier, those songs indeed surprised me as well as a lot of other people. And yes, I have heard a lot of stuff about this record. Many hate it and many love it. At least people are talking about it! A record that creates so much fuss is better than a boring record no one talks about! I would say this is an album that will go down in music history!
What next for Morbid Angel?
We got a couple of dates left on this tour and then we will be back on the road at the end of July , doing more festivals in Europe (and one in Canada, featuring Kiss as headliners). We will be at amongst others, Wacken, PartySan, Brutal Assault and Bloodstock. In September we are going to Central/ South America and Japan. That all I know of so far, but of course there will be more happenings in very near future. See you guys out there!